LAFAYETTE — After three consecutive losses, including a tough 23-point set back at Northwest Whitfield this past Tuesday, the LaFayette Ramblers came into Saturday’s home game with Southeast Whitfield simply needing a win.
They got even more.
In what head coach Tommy Swanson called perhaps the “biggest team win” of the season, the Ramblers put on a clinic in unselfish basketball and dominated the Raiders, 70-41, getting revenge for a four-point loss at Southeast nearly three weeks ago.
“We felt like we took a step today that hopefully will start to carry us into the (Region 7-AAAA) tournament,” he said. “We’ve had some close losses this year, but this gets us back just a game away from .500 again. Hopefully we can get on a run here at the end, finish with a winning season, and get back to the state tournament. Those are our goals.”
Three-pointers by Tyler Shropshire and Patrick Simmons keyed a 10-2 run that gave LaFayette (10-11, 2-5) a 16-10 lead after the first quarter. The Ramblers would stretch out their advantage to as many as 11 points in the second quarter before taking a 34-25 lead into the locker room.
The Raiders would narrow the gap to 39-32 just past the midway point of the third, but an 8-1 LaFayette spurt would cap the quarter and set the stage for a big final period by the home team.
A free throw and a runner in the lane by Cody Dallas got the decisive run started, and an offensive put-back by Lance Estus was sandwiched around a pair of treys by Clayton Underwood as a final 13-2 run built the lead to 23 points. The Rambler defense would hold Southeast to just two points over the final 5:10 as they coasted to the subregion victory.
Nine different players scored for LaFayette led by Estus, who had 16 points to go with his team-high 12 rebounds. Underwood and Shropshire had 14 and 13 points, respectively, and the duo combined for seven of the Ramblers’ eight three-pointers. Stefan Edmonson had nine points off the bench.
Rebounding was another key for LaFayette as they won the battle of the boards, 42-22. Eight different players had at least four boards and four players had at least four assists in the win.
“We really needed a win and we talked about that before the game,” Swanson said. “Our guys came out really focused today, and we had several people step up for us tonight. Clayton and Tyler really shot the ball well, and Lance played consistently well on both ends of the floor. A lot of guys did a lot of different things and I’m just proud of the way we responded.”
Chaz Payne had 14 points to pace Southeast.
Southeast girls 55, LaFayette 33
It wasn’t all good news in south Walker County, however, as the Lady Ramblers went ice-cold from the floor in the second half and dropped their fourth consecutive game in subregion play.
Southeast used a 9-2 second-quarter run to break a 9-9 tie, but a three-pointer by Shelby Narmore with 1:19 left in the first half helped keep LaFayette within striking distance at halftime, 24-19.
Unfortunately for the Lady Ramblers, Narmore’s bucket would be their last for quite a while.
LaFayette went 13:27 of game time before making their next shot from the field, a span that last until the 3:52 mark of the fourth quarter. They only managed 7-of-15 free throws during that stretch as the Lady Raiders went up by as many as 28 points. A three-pointer by Kayla Anderson finally broke the drought.
Michaela Suttles had 10 points and Anderson added seven for LaFayette (10-12, 1-6).
Wendy Perez and Megan Collins had 14 each for Southeast.
LaFayette will hit the road on Tuesday for a county clash at Ridgeland.